A 10-year-old Paraguayan girl was raped by her mother's boyfriend. The case caused an uproar in this traditionally Catholic country and abroad because authorities refused to let the girl undergo an abortion. Dr. Dolores Castellanos, head of child and adolescent medicine at the Asuncion hospital, reported that the girl who turned 11 this May gave birth on Thursday at the hospital.
Abortion is illegal in Paraguay except when the mother's life is deemed to be in danger. In April, authorities ruled that the child's pregnancy could proceed. Dr. Castellanos, the doctor that monitored the child's pregnancy, said, "She gave birth Thursday by C-section to a girl that weighed 3.5 kilos (8 pounds). The girl has named the baby Milagros, which is Spanish for miracles. The baby was born in week 37 of the pregnancy. The girl will remain under observation for 72 hours."
Mario Villalba, director of the Red Cross Hospital, said, "The delivery was like any other Cesarean, without complications, the difference being the age." Asked if the child will be able to nurse the baby, Villalba said, "We'll see how she does as a mother."
The baby's father, Gilberto Martinez Zarate, aged 42, has been taken into custody and is awaiting trial on rape charges. He could get between 12 and 15 years if convicted. The girl's mother was also arrested for neglect but was allowed to visit her daughter during the pregnancy.
The case reverberated far outside Paraguay, with United Nations experts criticizing the Paraguayan government for refusing to consider an abortion. UNICEF said, "Girls in Paraguay are not protected from sexual predators."
Amnesty International called on the government to repeal the country's strict anti-abortion law. It said, "The girl was lucky to be alive." Erika Guevara, Amnesty's director for the Americas, said, "The fact that the child survived does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities, who decided to gamble with her health, life and integrity despite overwhelming evidence that this pregnancy was extremely risky and despite the fact that she was a rape-victim and a child."